Updated Apr 12, 2023 - Economy

Musk tweets "Defund NPR" after outlet suspends Twitter use

NPR building

The NPR headquarters on Feb. 22 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Elon Musk on Wednesday tweeted "Defund NPR" after the nonprofit media organization said it was suspending its use of Twitter over a new "government-funded" label on its account.

Driving the news: Musk's tweet escalates an already deteriorating relationship with NPR, which said it would not resume tweeting unless the label is removed.

Driving the news: "We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public's understanding of our editorial independence," said NPR CEO John Lansing in a statement to staff.

  • NPR's media reporter David Folkenflik confirmed that NPR will not post any new content to the 52 Twitter feeds that are associated with its brand, representing various news desks and shows.
  • "I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility," Lansing told Folkenflik in an interview.
  • NPR on Tuesday tweeted a list of places readers could access its digital journalism outside of Twitter, including its website, newsletters and other social media sites.

Be smart: NPR is the latest major news organization to suspend the use of Twitter since Elon Musk took over the company last fall.

  • PBS on Wednesday confirmed it has "no plans" to resume tweeting after its account was slapped with the "government-funded" label last weekend.
  • CBS news last year suspended its use of Twitter temporarily, citing "uncertainty" after Musk purchased the platform.
  • NPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Axios.

Catch up quick: Twitter on Sunday added a new "government-funded" label to a few select media outlets that receive some funding from governments, including NPR and BBC.

  • NPR's business reporter Bobby Allyn reported that Musk planned to apply that label to "a larger number of institutions," but it's unclear exactly how he plans to use the new label.
  • Twitter originally added a "US state-affiliated media" label to NPR's main Twitter account last week, without explanation or warning, in what appeared to be a direct violation of the platform's previously stated policies.
  • When pressed by NPR, Musk couldn’t provide a reason for the label on NPR's account and not others, but he said he'd look into it.
  • In a surprise interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Musk said that he would change BBC's label to "public funded." He did not say he would do the same for NPR.

The big picture: As Axios has reported, Musk's impulsive reactions to competitive products or opinions that he dislikes are having an outsized impact on the media industry, which represents some of Twitter's most hyper-engaged users.

Go deeper: Listen to the Axios Today podcast, where host Niala Boodhoo and Sara Fischer discuss Twitter's new government funded label and whether Twitter explained how it plans on using it.

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional context.

Go deeper